“As SDN matures, its focus will continue to move up the network stack, toward the application layers," Lori MacVittie, senior technical marketing manager for F5, wrote in a Feb. 11 post on the company blog. "The programmable, scalable services at the application layer comprising the Application Services Fabric are necessary to fully realize the benefits of SDN and software-defined data centers, particularly in environments where network function virtualization [NFV] is adopted as a strategy to achieve maximum agility. Network function virtualization requires not only the improved performance of today's modern x86 hardware platforms, but software capable of scaling on demand while maintaining optimal performance and offering a high-degree of programmability for superior software defined control over the network."
Malagrino, a former longtime Cisco employee, said the issue for SDN is less about the Layer 2 connectivity tier—“The old Layer 2 problem … is a solution in search of a problem, and not the other way around.”—and more about the applications, which is why Embrane is aiming its heleos offerings at the application stack. The company’s portfolio includes virtual appliances for both load balancing and firewall, as well as heleo Elastic Services Manager network services orchestration tool.
Embrane’s goal is make its heleos products platform agnostic, enabling the services to run atop any SDN infrastructure layer offered by any vendor, he said. The company is seeing its efforts paying off. Embrane grabbed some headlines in February when Peer1, a hosting company, chose its heleos offerings over products from Cisco and Juniper.
Greg Rusu, general manager of Peer1's cloud hosting service, Zunicore, told Reuters that he was impressed that Embrane’s offerings would work with any underlying hardware. "Juniper and Cisco did not have a viable SDN solution that was truly heterogeneous, truly cross vendor," Rusu told Reuters.
In addition, services company SunGard last month also chose Embrane for SDN services. At the same time that Embrane announced the new customers, the company also unveiled new features added to the latest version of its heleos offerings, including enhanced APIs for integration with existing management tools and orchestration solutions such as OpenStack and CloudStack, a new user interface and command line interface, and the ability to support more than 300 network services instances on a single x86 server.
Malagrino said the goal is to create SDN services that are easy to deploy and manage and that can fit into any environment.
“I like for new technologies to be disruptive without being destructive,” he said. “We want to be in every single project that we can.”